Volunteers from the Ministry of Health offer free HIV/AIDS testing at the 2018 National Testing Day event. The confidential process is part of efforts to encourage more persons to get tested and know their status.
(Photo courtesy of HIV/AIDS Center MOH-BAH)
Despite considerable medical breakthroughs, the global HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to claim millions of lives around the world. And here in the Bahamas, the numbers are equally distressing, with recent statistics revealing that one in 50 people is currently living with the disease. In the face of such troubling data, healthcare professionals and advocacy groups alike have heightened efforts to raise awareness about the disease and encourage more Bahamians to know their HIV status.
Bahamas Waste, Nassau’s only provider of medical and hazardous waste disposal services, has partnered with the Ministry of Health to encourage people to get tested. This Friday, June 28, healthcare professionals will set up free testing stations in Rawson Square as well as offer private counselling for hundreds of people.
Event organisers hope to attract as many as 800 people with this annual initiative. Dubbed ‘The Bahamas National HIV Testing Day’, the event is part of a wider regional project targeting the Caribbean and Latin America, and works to prevent and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Knowing your status is the first step in stopping the spread of this terrible disease,” said Paula Bowleg of the Bahamas HIV/AIDS Centre. “We want to encourage everyone who can to come out and take advantage of this confidential and free testing.”
Bahamas Waste will oversee all medical disposal as well as sanitation at the event grounds, providing garbage bins, portable toilets and hand-washing stations for all clinical workers and participants.
“We’ve supported this programme since 2011,” said Bahamas Waste Operations Manager Ethelyn Davis. “It is part of our core philosophy to help support our communities on all fronts. We are proud to support the efforts of our government and the amazing volunteers within the Ministry of Health to help reverse the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Bahamas and around the world.”
For more than 12 years, Bahamas Waste has partnered with the All Saints Camp which was founded in 1989 in response to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since then, the home has continued to provide room, board, and treatment for up to 60 individuals who may otherwise not be able to receive the care they need.
“Every year we work to provide clothing, food and toiletry items which they need to make the lives of the residents there more comfortable,” said Ms Davis. “We look forward to even more opportunities to assist in stopping the spread of this epidemic.”